Current articles about mentorship oftentimes fail to discuss what I call “collective mentorship”. In the digital age, wisdom and support stem from a wide breadth of sources that, when combined, create a comprehensive mentorship program. Instead of tapping one great mind, you can have endless amounts of contacts and as an added benefit, you end up building yourself into that same network.
While writing her PhD, one of my colleagues posed key questions via Twitter. By building a network of mentor-like individuals, she got answers instantly and across subject matter experts. Even superstars like marketing guru Seth Godin are forgoing traditional personalized coaching as a revenue stream. Godin hosted a one-day workshop in his home designed to offer value through shared experience. The world is more complex than ever and it is helpful to build interdisciplinary skills and networks.
Creating a collective mentorship network is, in many ways, more difficult than finding one traditional mentor. It requires not only making an effort to reach out to a variety of people, but it is also only successful if your own identity (web and otherwise) is fluid across many channels. Maybe your potential mentor is prolific on Twitter and LinkedIn. Perhaps, Facebook or Google+ are more their style. And, maybe they haven’t even gone digital and are active in trade associations, traditional conferences and networking events. The more of these places you are, the more your network has the potential to expand. In a world of decreased individualism and increased collectivism, the outliers get in. Start a discussion. Be the person to bring up the question that 95% of “followers” never thought to ask.
Image via Media Psychology Review.